PHILADELPHIA – An abuse lawsuit filed by two students and their guardian against Glen Mills school is part of a series of events that includes layoffs and the removal of students from the campus.
The layoffs were the result of the state’s emergency order, which removed the remaining 64 boys on campus.
‘’We are aware of the lawsuit,’’ Glen Mills school spokesperson Aimee Tysarczyk told the Pennsylvania Record. ’’Legal counsel has been reviewing it and has no further comment on it at this time.’’
The suit followed a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer that detailed abuse at the school.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs include Mother Miller, the natural guardian of Billy Miller and Charles F. Jones. Defendants listed were the school and John Does 1 to 100. The John Doe defendants were described in the complaint as current and former managers, administrators, supervisors, teaching staff, medical staff and others who were employed by the school and who abused children at the school.
Filed on March 27, the suit claimed students were assaulted, mistreated and abused after they were committed to the facility.
The complaint said, ‘’Defendants violated the clearly established federal Constitutional and statutory rights of I and those similarly situated under the Fourth, Eighth and 14th amendments and those similarly situated to harmful and degrading physical and mental abuse, including the use of excessive and unreasonable physical force, and by failing to protect them from harm and injuries at the hand of others.’’
The suit claims the school caused the injuries to the plaintiffs and also failed to properly train and supervise the John Doe defendants.
In the complaint, defendant Billy Miller, who is now at least 18, was asleep on the top level of a bunk bed and he had a dream he was falling out of bed. When he awakened, he alleges that he realized that staff members were pulling him off the bed and slamming him onto the floor, where they jumped on him and spit in his face, the suit claims.
Miller, who was 16 at the time in 2016, wanted to report the incident to his mom but was allegedly warned by staff that all telephone conversations were taped and that they would make it worse for him if he ever told anyone about the abuse he received.
Jones, the other plaintiff listed in the complaint, was sent to the school after violating his probation. Jones, who was 17 last year, claims he experienced or saw at the school numerous beatings, slamming against walls and punching by staff. Jones alleges he once used the bathroom and when he came out, three staff members assaulted him, breaking three of his ribs.
Since the Inquirer report and the lawsuit that was filed, a lot has happened at Glen Mills. The school began layoffs and about 250 were affected.
“Glen Mills Schools and its board of managers made the difficult decision to begin layoffs,” Tysarczyk said. "In total, approximately 250 individuals have been impacted. Notifications began on [April 2]. Glen Mills Schools thanks our employees, many of whom have tirelessly served the school for decades, for their commitment to the school’s mission and helping to pave the way to a new path in life for countless young men."
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services issued an emergency order to remove all children from campus and the last of those were off campus by April 5. At its peak, there were 1,000 students at the school.
The school filed an appeal with the DHS ruling on April 4.
‘’For the past 40 years, Glen Mills has been one of the most visited, regulated, inspected and scrutinized programs of its kind. It also has been among the most imitated and praised schools of its kind," the appeal said.
"Glen Mills has taken on the challenge of educating and rehabilitating some of this nation’s neediest kids. For all these years Glen Mills has steadfastly refused to act as a warehouse and sit idly while fundamentally decent kids get washed down the pipeline to prison. Instead Glen Mills has offered its students a once in a lifetime opportunity to get an excellent education and learn to live in society without resort to violence or delinquency.’’